Seniors And Medicare At Center Of Debate
President Obama is seeking to relieve concerns about possible Medicare changes and, at his New Hampshire town hall this week, highlighted issues affecting seniors.
The Washington Times reports: "If there is anyone or anything President Obama cannot afford to offend in his battle to overhaul the nation's health care system, it is the powerful seniors lobby, AARP. Perhaps that is why the White House was so quick to backpedal Wednesday after Mr. Obama mistakenly claimed that the organization, with its tens of millions of politically active members, had already signed on to his plan. Mr. Obama drew a forceful rejoinder from the group... when he said during a town-hall meeting Tuesday in New Hampshire that it was endorsing his health care reform proposal." The report continues, "That the AARP so forcefully knocked down the claim of support shows the group is wary of being used as a political football" (Haberkorn, 8/13).
In a separate piece, The Washington Times reports: "White House press secretary Robert Gibbs acknowledged that Mr. Obama spoke inaccurately in New Hampshire on Tuesday when he stated that AARP, the nation's largest organization for retirees, was endorsing his health-care-reform proposal. ... White House officials said privately that the president spoke accurately in general terms because AARP does support the reform effort but that he crossed a line when he used the word 'endorse'" (Ward, 8/12).
CQ Politics reports that Obama's New Hampshire town hall meeting spotlighted Medicare's role in overhaul: "Obama did purposefully focus attention on Medicare issues that are worrying seniors, who polls have found are the most skeptical about the president and congressional Democrats' plans to overhaul the health care system. For example, a Gallup Poll released July 31 found that seniors are the least likely of all age groups to say that an overhaul will improve their situation. Obama acknowledged that's what the polls say, added that it's "understandable"... and put special emphasis on speaking directly to Medicare beneficiaries" (Norman, 8/12).
The Minnesota Independent reports on the Democratic push to cut tens of billions of dollars for private insurers who cover Medicare patients: "In past years, the Democrats' proposals to cut subsidies to the popular but controversial Medicare Advantage program - which allows seniors to receive their Medicare benefits through private companies - have been greeted with howls of protest from both the insurance industry and conservative lawmakers. ... Yet this year, even as the Democrats hope to trim more than $100 billion from the MA program over a decade to help pay for their larger health reform effort, the focus of the critics' attacks has been largely directed elsewhere" (Lillis, 8/12).